Bread – Speechmaking

July 22, 2013


Readings for Monday, July 22, designated by the 1979 Book of Common Prayer: 1 Sam. 24:1-22; Acts 13:44-52; Mark 4:1-20; Psalms 41,44,52

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For many people, the thought of getting up among a group of people, whether large or small, to make a speech is a fearful thing. We get butterflies in our stomach, a headache, ours brains are filled with cotton, and our mouths with stones. We stumble and mumble and make little sense and then sit down with great embarrassment, knowing that whatever important we had to say was lost in our inability to deliver the goods. There are in fact organizations built up around giving speeches, training us to be more outgoing, more organized, more pointed, and more self-confident. The Toastmasters come to mind, but I am sure there are other groups as well. Speechmaking is a an act best left to others with more talent, right?

Wrong. The truth is that we make speeches all day long. We argue our points, explain our positions, explain the good, deconstruct the bad, and generally talk to people, recommending movies, recipes, cars, good jobs, television programs, stocks, golf clubs, shoes, dresses, etc. The audience may not be large, but there is an audience. There are the people who are listening, of course, but there are the people those people will talk to, there is ourselves (any speech given to others is also given to ourselves), and there is God. So, right there, even if you are just speechmaking to one person, you are talking to at least an audience of three.

In our readings today, we are introduced to at least three different kinds of speeches. The first is by David, when he steps out from the safety of the cave to stand in front of Saul, who wants to kills him, to simply speak the truth, that Saul has nothing to fear from David. The second is by Paul and Barnabas, who proclaimed God’s Word in Antioch, a place which was both receptive and rejecting. The third is by Christ Himself, who spoke a parable about sowing seed and its reception by various kinds of ground.

Whether we call these speeches confessions, proclamations, or parables, they all have the same elements. First, God’s man is the speaker. Second, the truth is told. Third, the audience has the potential, always sitting on a knife’s edge, to either be welcoming or hostile to the truth. Fourth, the speaker does not know how the audience will react. Fifth, one possible reaction of the audience results the speaker’s death, imprisonment, loss, damage, rejection, etc. Sixth, what is not affected by the audience, no matter how welcoming or rejecting, is the speaker’s joy. [see “The Jews … stirred up persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and drove them out of their district…And the disciples were filled with joy…” Acts 13:50-52]

Whether or not you want to give speeches or think you can give speeches, God sends us out into the world every day as His ambassadors to give speeches about Him, His kingdom come in Jesus’ death and resurrection, and His kingdom to come in Christ’s return.

So, knowing that we are going to give speeches whether we want to or not, I would think that we would want to give good speeches. This requires us to be a man or woman of God, clothed in Christ’s righteousness and not our own. It requires us speak the truth as given to us by God in His Word and by our actual circumstances (see David in our reading today from 1 Samuel). It requires us to speak to the audience that is before us, but not particularly care about the quality of the reaction we get. It requires us to not really care about the reaction we get, as long as the truth be told.

How then can we be good speechmakers? In our own power, we can’t. We can’t because we cannot be God’s man or woman in our own power (salvation is of the Lord), because we cannot deliver the truth without knowing the truth and without our wills being steeled by our knowledge of our place in eternity, and because we, as people, care about being liked by our audiences and do not take rejection well. In our own power, if we are rejected by our audience, we will not leave the place with joy in our heart.

How then can we be good speechmakers? When we are saved by God, disciplined by God, instructed in God’s Word, look to God for approval and not man, know that our safety is in God’s hands, and know our place in eternity. When we are infused and empowered by the Holy Spirit. When we are clothed by Christ, with Christ, and in Christ. When our armor is not of our fashioning or invention but is of God’s manufacture. When we come to truly understand that although the speech is ours to give, the result in the audience is God’s to deliver.

Wow, it sounds like I have just described Superman. Maybe I have, but I think it is more likely that I have just described a Christian. Have I described you?

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© 2013 GBF

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